If you've been following digital publishing news the past few months then you've probably heard the term "Hybrid Author". This is a term that is being bandied about by those in and around the legacy publishing industry, and it refers to self-published authors who have chosen (more on this later) to sign a deal with a traditional publisher. Well-known examples of hybrid authors include Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, and Sylvia Day.
I have been watching all the attention being given to the topic of so-called hybrid authors, and in spite of the numerous blog posts and the recent conference session at Digital Book 2013 I can't understand why this is such a fascinating topic.
The tenor of the discussions is that authors should choose to be a hybrid author because it is the best of both world (self and traditional publishing). A hybrid author has the independence to release their own work on their own schedule while still making use of the professional marketing and editorial work that (hopefully) can be had from a traditional publisher.
This is all well and good, but the thing is, I don't see how a self-published author can choose to sign with a traditional publisher.
Choosing to sign with a traditional publisher is like choosing to win the lottery. It's great when it happens, but you can't exactly decide to make it happen.
And yes, the word "choose" is apt. I checked with Jeremy Greenfield, who moderated a session on hybrids authors at DB13 (and is doing the most to promote the term), and he really did think that this was something authors should choose.
And that's why i don't understand all the attention being given to this topic. Instead I have come to the conclusion that for 2013 the hybrid author is the much-hyped topic of discussion that is not worth paying attention too.
That's pretty much what Pottermore was last year, though I think I was the only one to say so.
As you might recall, Pottermore launched in late 2011 with the rare accomplishment of making Amazon dance to their tune. This ebookstore sold Harry Potter ebooks and convinced Amazon to merely support the sale without actually making any money.
This impressive accomplishment had the publishing world abuzz as many speculated that this would be the way to fight back against Amazon, and it even generated a couple conference sessions. But one detail that many seemed to have missed at the time was that no one else had the same advantages as Pottermore:
Unfortunately that idea tends to fall apart when you look at it too closely. Frankly, none of the major publishers are in quite as strong a position as Pottermore.
Pottermore had 2 things going for it when they sat down with Amazon. The Harry Potter ebooks were still hot even 4 years after the series ended, and no one had them anywhere.
Hybrid authors are about as useful of a topic this year as Pottermore was last year. It focuses on a tiny, tiny fraction of all authors (basically the ones that have won the lottery) and pretends that everyone else can make a choice to do so.
P.S. Don't get me wrong, I think authors should seriously consider this as an option. But I also won't pretend that authors can choose to make it happen.
image by HighTechDad